Blog, book review, Book Reviews

The Mindful Maker

35 creative Fabric Projects to Focus the Mind and soothe the soul

by Clare Youngs

Published by Cico Books £12.99

With Mindfulness being so much of the current zeitgeist and crafting snapping, close behind, on its heels, this book is both brilliantly timed in its publication date and at the same time utterly engaging.

Squeezy Kitty

Having interviewed Clare for my Meet the Makers series I knew this book would be a treat to read and to use. Clare is a ‘one off’ an original, her ideas are fun, her designs good and she comes up with items you actually want to create.

Indigo woven mat

         As Clare says in her introduction

‘Mindfulness has become a bit of a buzzword in recent years. There has been much talk about slowing down, enjoying the moment, and leading a less stressful life. Let’s face it life can be pretty hectic. The day to day whirlwind of work, families, household chores, and keeping up a social life while rushing around needing to do things and be places can take a toll on our mental and physical wellbeing. At the same time, we are being bombarded by constant imagery, messages and content from our digital devices-we need time out. Taking up a craft can be one way of relieving that stress and tension.‘

Latch hook pillow

         When you make something your mind is focused, and often the action you are doing is repetitive, which is soothing –almost meditative-pushing out any negative thoughts you may have. It is all about getting the flow. This is the perfect state between concentration and action. When you are there in the zone, the everyday world drops away and any stress and worries along with it.

         Clare is a believer in making new things from old, using what you have and adapting old fabrics to counteract a throwaway society, and all her designs have a Scandinavian-inspired, modern aesthetic.

         The book includes machine sewing, punch needling, embroidery, weaving, macramé, printing and much more. Many of the projects can be carried with you when you are travelling. This is a great way to keep calm when all around you are less so.

Embroidered Shirt

There is a chapter on the Mindful home that includes a throw, a mat, bowls, a lamp and a quilt. There are thoughtful gifts and tactile gifts for children and some wonderful inventive wall art. The book is beautifully illustrated by Clare’s husband, Ian and shot by Joanna Henderson. As I was about to review this book and my daughter saw it on my desk she said she wanted it. So my advice is buy 2 copies one for you, and one for your daughter!

Blog, book review, Book Reviews

Craftfulness

Mend yourself by making things

By Rosemary Davidson and Arzu Tahsin

Published by Quercus books

As somebody who is a craft author and maker of many years, when I saw the title and strap line of this book it resonated with me. 

In the introduction the authors, both makers, describe how they realized that craft is their therapy.

‘ Working with my hands to make a thing-whether it’s a sketchbook or a piece of weaving or drawing –fulfils some essential function of me. It feels predestined, it’s a part of my DNA. I can’t imagine not having a project on the go. There would be a hole in my life, a sense that there is something I should be doing. When I’m making I am focused, resolved, connected to the work I am shaping. Afterwards I feel refreshed, invigorated even, and always more energetic for what is going on around me. I’ve come to the conclusion that as long as I’m making, I can do all the other things being alive requires of me. I equate my daily craft practice with, if anything, meditation.” Azru Tahsin, editor, crafter and one of the authors of this book.

         The co-author Rosemary Davidson describes being surround with materials from which to make as a small child. Her grandmother was a seamstress and so Rosemary had access to beads feather and threads from a very early age.

“When I’m making I have room to think. And to do my daydreaming.” she says.

         Neither woman wishes to set up a business crafting things so they wondered why do they craft. This book comes up with some very plausible of the answers.

         ‘ We make things because we enjoy it and because our crafts make us feel better. It is when we return to our sewing, knitting, bookbinding or weaving that we achieve moments of calm. When our energy is low, making something energizes us. Making reaches into the place where ideas are sparked and where problems are resolved.’

          The authors admit that they are not craft experts, or feel particularly ‘artistic’ in the conventional sense of the word. They both work as freelance editors, but it is by being menders, dabblers and gung-ho experimenters that they are convinced there are health benefits to be had by practicing as often as possible a craft that inspires and challenges.

‘Through making and mending things, we contend that you are also potentially making and mending yourself’.

 The book is divided into three sections. The first, and for me the most fascinating part, explores what is meant by creativity and the importance of craft in our lives. The authors explore the latest research on how working with your hands and making things can have a huge impact on your mental well-being and happiness.

         The second section of the book deals with how to deal with negativity, how to stretch your imagination and flex your fingers.   The final part of the book has a projects section that gives techniques for a number of crafts including weaving on a frame, knitting, drawing making a simple clay pot and darning and mending. There is lots of helpful advise including inspirational web sites and a recommended reading list.

Blog, Exhibitions

AWAMAKI

As part of the Weavers of the Clouds exhibition there is a section on the weaving of the women who make up Awamaki, a non-profit organization that connects artisan women in the Andes to global markets.

Here is some of the work designed and made by 21 weavers in the community of

Walaquilla Kelanca.

Each of the 21 weavers took images from their daily life and wove a piece that illustrates them, images include llamas, alpacas, birds, ducks, bats, turkey, deer, condors, houses, cornflowers, stars, eyes, foxes, native plants, mountains, lagoons, parrots, dogs, Andean geese Huallata, hummingbirds and owls.

Awamaki was formed in early 2009 to support a cooperative of 10 women weavers from Patacancha, a rural Quechua community in the Andes of Peru. Awamaki’s founders, Kennedy Leavens, from the U.S.A, and Miguel Galdo, from Peru, had worked together at Awamaki’s predecessor organization with the weaving cooperative for two years. When the predecessor organization floundered and finally collapsed, Miguel and Kennedy formed Awamaki to continue their work with the weavers. The organization grew rapidly to include programs in health and education, as well as other artisan cooperatives and a sustainable tourism program. In 2011, Awamaki spun its health program off into an independent sister organization, and made the strategic decision to focus on income improvement and market access through fair trade artisan cooperatives and sustainable tourism.

         It provides training in product development, business skills and leadership. Artisans have the opportunity to share their culture and sell their crafts to tourists through Awamaki’s sustainable tourism program. They collaborate with international designers to make contemporary handmade accessories throughout the world.

         Awamaki’s guiding principle is that income in the hands of women is the best way to help families be self-sufficient. In the rural Quechua villages where Awamaki is established, men leave to work in the tourism economy, while women stay in the village to care for farms, homes and children. Although highly skilled in traditional crafts, most women do not read, write, speak Spanish or have anyway of earning money. 

         Meanwhile, as the rural economy has shifted towards paid labour, traditional textile arts such as spinning, plant dyeing and weaving have experienced a decline. Awamaki was founded to give these women the opportunity to earn a living while encouraging them to continue practising traditional crafts.

         Today, the majority of artisans who have been in the program for at least seven years earn the same or more than their husbands. They invest in the health and education of their families, and are building a prosperous, sustainable future for Quecha villages in Peru.

Awaki is based in Ollantaytambo, Peru, in the heart of  the Sacred Valley of the Inca. It welcomes volunteers, tourists and other in support of its work.

Blog, Exhibitions

WEAVERS OF THE CLOUDS: TEXTILE ARTS OF PERU

21 June -8 September 2019 at the Fashion and Textile Museum London

Weavers of the Clouds brings the captivating designs of Peru to the UK, showcasing some of the world’s oldest and most colourful art and textiles. Peru has a world-renowned heritage of fibre arts and costumes, from a lineage that dates back thousands of years. Weavers of the Clouds examines the vibrant applied crafts, heritage and traditions of Peru, celebrating the culture and customs of the artisan and their influence on design, fashion and beyond.

The exhibition features rarely seen objects from private collections and national museums, including the Museo de la Nación, Museo de Arte, Museo Nacional de la Cultura Peruana in Lima and the British Museum in London, including full costumes, tapestries, adornments, trimmings and accessories. 

Highlights include a 16th century Quipu – knotted fibres that were traditionally used by the Incas as a form of communication – and a four cornered hat, dating from 600 AD. Also on display; a rare pre-Hispanic tunic created in orange, yellow and blue macaw feathers, a sequined and embroidered waistcoat, emblazoned with birds and flowers and a Shipibo costume from the Amazon Rainforest, embroidered to reflect the astrological map.

Tapestries and weaving from a private collection include a ceremonial tunic created using a Scaffold weave, one of the most unusual weaving techniques in the world, previously existing only in the Andean region of South America. Despite dating to 800 AD, the influence of these techniques can be seen across hundreds of years and in the works of many great designers, including the Bauhaus and Anni Albers. These incredible costumes and textiles are complemented by a selection of varied and engaging paintings, photographs and illustrations.

Images by highly influential photographer Martin Chambi and paintings by Indigenista Peruana – a group of painters who were active in Lima from 1890s – 1940s – are accompanied by finely drawn paintings by Pancho Fierro and Francisco Javier Cortés. A further selection of vibrant watercolours by Francisco Gonzaláz Gamarra’s will be on show for the very first time, illustrating and celebrating traditional costume.

Finally, The Fashion Studio hosts a display curated by Claudia Trosso and supported by award-winning Peruvian restaurateur and chef, Martin Morales, exploring the work of 15 contemporary Peruvian artists and makers. These ground breaking artists combine the patience and skill of traditional techniques with contemporary materials such as nylon, copper, wire, photographic paper and thread.

Encompassing many different mediums and dimensions, Weavers of the Clouds celebrates Peru’s incredible history of traditions and skills, taking us on a cultural journey from the country’s rich past, to the vibrant modernity of its contemporary arts.
The exhibition is curated by Guest Curator Hilary Simon in collaboration with Dennis Nothdruft, Head of Exhibitions and The Fashion and Textile Museum. Interviews available on request. 

  The Fashion and Textile Museum is at 83 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3XF
T: 020 7407 8664 | E: info@ftmlondon.org

Museum opening times: Tuesday – Saturday, 11am – 6pm; Sunday, 11am – 5pm; Late night Thursday until 8pm; Last admission 45 minutes before closure. Ticket prices: £9.90 adults*, £8.80* concessions, £7 students and free entry for under 12s *including Gift Aid.  Encompassing many different mediums and dimensions, Weavers of the Clouds celebrates Peru’s incredible history of traditions and skills, taking us on a cultural journey from the country’s rich past, to the vibrant modernity of its contemporary arts.

 
Blog, book review, Book Reviews

Weave This

Over 30 fun projects for the modern weaver By Francesca Kletz and Brooke Dennis

Francesca Kletz and Brooke Dennis are the partnership who started and run The London Loom, a weaving studio in Hackney,  East London

         London Loom hosts both community workshops and smaller classes where adults and children work alongside each other inspiring creativity. As well as beginners weaving Francesca and Brooke also teach other crafts. This book is not your conventional weaving book, there are many styles and methods of weaving that are covered in the book.

Not all the projects are done on a loom, however the basic different steps are covered, as are tools and materials. These include interlocking, curves, soumak, rya knots and loop stitch.

         There are exciting and inventive ideas such as making a giant loom from a clothing rail or creating your own yarn from scraps of fabric. Tassel making is covered. One is shown how to weave a letter or even how to use a spade to create a wall hanging. Learn how to ice dye and to make a woven fringed back for a jacket.

If you want to create interior accessories there is a really cool shade, an upcycled chair with a new woven seat  a puja mat and some great geometric cushions and a rug. This book is full of exciting projects that takes what can be quite a worthy po faced activity and turns it into something that is fun.

If you want to start a new craft this is a bargain at £14.99.

Published by Hardie Grant Books

Makes, Uncategorized

Woven plastic bag wall hanging

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In the week that we embraced environmental day,  I thought it would be a good idea to post a creative way of using up old Plastic bags. I purchased a simple frame loom from a thrift shop but the similar can be found at Hobby Craft or Tiger or you can make your own using a picture frame and some nails.  I displayed  the hanging from a broken branch I found in the garden.

Materials

Plastic bags in a variety of colours

Cotton warp thread or string

Fat twig or thin branch for hanging

Equipment

Loom

Weaving shuttle

Scissors

Tape measure

 

Step 1

Cut the bag into strips  0.5cm wide. Knot the strips together so you have one long strip.1 cut strips of plastic

Step 2

Thread the loom by tying on the thread at one side and then going backwards and forwards between the top end and the bottom end of the frame. It is important to maintain an even tension. Tie off the thread in the same way as you tied on the thread.2.thread loom

Step 3

So that the weaving doesn’t fall out when you finish you will need to make a twisted header. Cut a piece of warp thread about two and a half times the width of the warp. Twist the thread round each warp thread in turn. As in the image.

3Making a twisted header

Step 4

When you get to the end of the warp return in the opposite direction push the threads down and tie off at the end.

4Return in the opposite direction

Step5

Thread the plastic onto the shuttle and then starting in the middle of the warp take the shuttle under and over until you reach one end, then go back the other way.

5thread the plastic onto the shuttle a.JPG

Step 6

As you work push down the weft to cover the warp. When you have made a stripe of one colour change to another.6push the woven pieces down to cover the warp

Step 7

To make tassels cut strips of plastic (blue)about 20cm long. Choose a middle section of the hanging and put the blue plastic behind two warp threads at the same time. Wrap one side round one thread and the other round the other , pull the threads through to the front of the hanging. Add as many of these as you like. Mine  was so bunchy that when I hung it up I gave it a bit of a trim.7constructing the tassels

Step 8/9

Weave another block of flat weaving. Repeat steps 3 and 4 to finish off.9Add another block of colour

Step 10

Pull the ends off the loom and then thread onto the branch. Cut off the warp threads from the other end of the loom and knot them one to the next one.

10Pull the ends of the yarn off the loom

Tip

Check that you are not creating a waist by pulling in the sides of the warp as you work.

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Breathing Colour by Hella Jongerius

 

A series of newly commissioned installations, exploring our perceptions and connections to colour. Research, art and design combine in works that challenge the modern industrialization of colour.

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Drawing on 15 years of research, acclaimed designer Hella Jongerius presents Breathing Colour: an installation-based exhibition that takes a deeper look at how colour behaves.

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Jonerius’ research has been inspired by a wide range of sources. These include painters, who recognized and recorded how light affects objects. For example Monet who painted the same haystack over and over to document the different colours and atmospheres at different times of day.

Breathing Colour creates an exhibition that blurs the boundaries between art and design. Combining intriguing shapes with extensive research: the exhibition questions our preconceptions of colour and embraces its imperfections and experimentation.

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Hella Jongerius explains:

‘There is a phenomenon  in colorimetry called Metamerism. This was the starting point of my colour research. It occurs when colours are viewed in different conditions, and describes the effect when two colours appear to match even though they might not actually do. I think everyone once bought a piece of furniture or clothingin a certain colour, and experienced a shock when unpacking it back at home. Most companies see the effect as problematic and try to avoid it, and produce colours that attempt to eliminate it. But I want to make a plea for embracing metamerism. As a designer, I want to make a plea for plastics, varnishes and paints to use layered pigments that provide intense colours that are allowed to breathe with changing light.’IMG_1341.jpg

The exhibition is divided into separate spaces that simulate daylight conditions at specific times of day-morning-noon and evening. These three phases explore the impact of changing daylight on our perception of colour. Each installation includes a series of 3D objects as well as textiles. Some of which are hand-woven while others are produced on industrial looms.

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Large –scale textiles experiment in creating black tones without the use of black materials. Woven from woolen, linen and cotton threads, these textiles are an extension of Jongerius’ previous research into the colour

Black and her rejection of the standard industrial approach, to adding carbon to colours in order to darken them.IMG_1377.jpg

Where colours were once produced by mixing pigments into infinite permutations, we now select them according to a name on a chart.

Jongerius argues that these processes of industrialization have narrowed our experience of colour and its cultural meanings. Breathing Colour explores how we relate to colour in a more intimate and personal way.

At The Design Museum 224-238 Kensington High Street London W8 6AG

28th June – 24th September 2017

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